The Parallel Universe of Frank Rich: Press Corps Too Pliant

Frank Rich is from Venus; NewsBusters is from Mars.

NewsBusters documents the way that, day-in and day-out, the MSM slants its coverage against conservative principles in general and the Bush administration in particular.  Frank Rich looks at the same coverage and complains that the press is too Bush-friendly.

In his p.p.v. New York Times column of today, All the President’s Press, Rich takes the occasion of the recent White House correspondents dinner to complain "how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media."

Annotated excerpts:

The press has enabled stunts from the manufactured threat of imminent “mushroom clouds” to “Saving Private Lynch” to “Mission Accomplished,” whose fourth anniversary arrives on Tuesday.

No one in the Bush administration ever spoke of "imminent mushroom clouds." Rich flatly misstates the truth.  Lynch's criticism of the way the military presented her story was all over the MSM this week.  And how incalculably many times over the last few years has the MSM run mocking coverage of President Bush's "Mission Accomlished" moment?

Americans [have] paid a heavy price for the press’s failure to challenge White House propaganda about Iraq.

The MSM has failed to challenge the White House on Iraq? Surely Frank jests.

Rich criticizes President Bush for making "a grand show of abstaining [from doing a comedy shtick at the correspondents dinner], saying that the killings at Virginia Tech precluded his being a 'funny guy.'” 

Had the president done such a shtick, one can imagine Rich condemning him for doing so "while not all of the VA Tech funerals have even been concluded."  Indeed, in the very same paragraph, Rich complains that at a prior dinner, "the president contributed an elaborate (and tasteless) comic sketch about his failed search for Saddam’s W.M.D."  Damned if you do . . .

Rich even manages to contradict himself.  He claims that at the time of Pat Tillman's death, the Bush administration sought to perpetuate the notion that Tillman was killed by enemy fire to deflect tough press coverage it was elsewhere receiving in the week before that correspondents’ dinner. Writes Rich: "On April 28, 2004, CBS broadcast the first photographs from Abu Ghraib; on April 29 a poll on The Times’s front page found the president’s approval rating on the war was plummeting; on April 30 Ted Koppel challenged the administration’s efforts to keep the war dead hidden by reading the names of the fallen on 'Nightline.'" 

But wait, isn't Rich's supposed point that the press is pliant?  Yet tough coverage drove the Bush administration to dissemble on Tillman?  Which is it, Mr. Rich?

Rich bitterly attacks WaPo columnist, dean of center-left punditry, for "leading the charge in ridiculing Harry Reid for saying the obvious — that 'this war is lost.'”

It's a good thing Rich wasn't around during the darkest days of WWII.  Might he have been a fan of the armistice-preaching Lord Halifax?

It is a mark of just how deep is Rich's enmity toward the Bush administration that he can look at MSM coverage and find it too friendly.

Contact Mark at mark@gunhill.net

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.